Ozito belt grinder to stand alone 2x48inch grinder

I started this blog post ages ago, and add bits to it occasionally. Now I’m almost happy with the way it runs, I figure I should post it up and let you all see it in all it’s hideous glory.

This story begins with a $69 bench grinder with attached belt grinder. THIS one to be specific.

This is the grinder from Bunnings.

 

There is nothing similar for close to this  money. However, of course, you get what you pay for.

To start with, its very underpowered. That was kind of expected, but I thought it might do. The biggest problem though was getting it to track correctly.

The tracking mechanism was horrendous, and it would take 10 to 15 minutes to get the thing to track right if you changed belts etc… and the pressed sheet metal parts would bend all the time.

I tried to use it as is, but fairly quickly started modifying it to make it suit my needs better.

 

Modifications Phase One – Simple tweaks

The grinder before any modifications

Here is the grinder before I begin any modifications on it

I began by modifying the grinder to work suitably with my needs, rotating the belt so it ran vertically, and adding a new work support that was nice and large.

A small template I made to make re-drilling the holes in the case of the unit easier

A small template I made to make re-drilling the holes in the case of the unit easier

 

The holes drilled in the grinder case. The slots you can see are the original mounting positions

The holes drilled in the grinder case. The slots you can see are the original mounting positions

Here is the grinder after the modification. Much easier to use.

Here is the grinder after the modification. Much easier to use.

This worked OK, but the issue of belt tracking still existed, so on went the modifications.

 

Modification Phase 2 – Fixing the tracking, and going bigger

Here is an overall shot of the grinder, now running the longer belts

Here is an overall shot of the grinder, now running the longer belts.

 

Here is a close up of the tracking system I make. Far from perfect, but it kinda worked.

Here is a close up of the tracking system I make. Far from perfect, but it kinda worked.

Now, I was getting sick of how hard it is to get the grinder to track right. the mechanism was so bad, it was almost impossible to get it to run right. So I set out to make a new tracking system, and while I was at it, extend the length, so I could fit the longer 48 inch belts.

The tracking system is made from angle iron, and uses some parts left over from the previous tracking system, mainly the tension spring.

Now, this tracking system is not perfect, but Its a heck of a lot better than the original system.

 

Modification Phase 3 – chuck everything out and start again.

Belt Grinder

OK, at this point, its hard to call it a modification, its basically a new grinder. All that remains of the original grinder are the drive and tracking wheels. They seem to be holding up so far.

I had a 400 watt electric motor from a pool filter pump I had kicking about, which I originally picked up to make a disk grinder out of. I noticed that its shaft is exactly the right diameter for the drive wheel of the Ozito grinder.

Using some scrap metal which I salvaged from a wall support from a CRT TV as the basis for this grinder, I’ve constructed a more traditional style belt grinder.

Belt grinder

 

This grinder now works much better than any iterations before it. It does still have its ideosyncracies though.

The gas strut I’m using is too strong, and puts way too much tension on the belt. Unfortunately, due to construction, I can’t move the location further down the pivot point, to reduce its leverage effects, as the main support gets in the way.

 

Modification Phase 4 – Further Improvements.

So at this point, I decided to change directions with the way I was doing the belt tensioning. I moved to a telescoping pillar style method, using vertical shaft of the grinder as the outer  motion point. It uses the same gas strut for tension, but this way it provides less force on the belt, and things run pretty nicely.

The grinder as it stood before receiving the wheel and platten update.

 

After that, I felt what was holding me back was the wheels on the grinder. The skateboard wheels I have been using have a slight taper in one direction, that makes keeping the belt straight a little difficult. I could try and correct the taper, but in the end, I chose to simply replace them with proper grinder wheels.

The wheels I’m using came from Ebay, all the way from Poland from THIS store  (no affiliation, just bought them from here). Being custom made for the purpose, they are a lot more solid, and are actually square compared to the slight taper the skateboard wheels had.

 

This is the wheel set that I bought for the grinder. Currently I’m not using the drive wheel.

 

My current frame for the skateboard wheel assembly wasn’t going to work for the new wheels, so I went back to the drawing board, and  started fresh. Some more scrap steel from the brackets and bits & pieces I had lying about, and I had a one piece frame, and I didn’t have to worry about welding bits of steel together in the same plane like I did with the original.

 

Laying out the new platten / wheel assembly

 

Getting things lined up on the new platten assembly

 

Here I align the work platform and receiver before welding it on.

 

Here is the grinder with its new wheels. I’m yet to mount the actual platten in this image, but you can see how it looks at least.

It’s been quite a journey from a crappy, overly cheap bench grinder with attached belt sander, all the way through to a slighly more powerful grinder that functions a whole lot better. There are things I’d change. If I were starting again, Ideally, I’d avoid the bench grinder all together, and just start with a set of the wheels I posted, a motor that suits the wheels and a nice pile of fresh steel. Its always good to use what you have lying around, but often you get nicer results by investing some money and doing things properly.

Now I’m fairly happy with it’s layout and operation, I’m happy to let the grinder’s evolution to rest here for a little bit. It’s working as well as could be expected, but there is always something else to tweak. What I want to do now is USE my grinder to get making some things, specifically a few knives.

And for you all that read though to the end, here is a video of me talking about the grinder, and it running:

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Visiting my local maker space, and playing with 3d printers

So, Last night I payed my second visit to my local maker space here in Canberra, Make Hack Void. A couple of weeks ago, I came to chat about 3d printers, and this week I came in hopes to get hands on experience with the one they have at the space – a Lulzbot TAZ 5. I’d never had the opportunity to play with a 3d printer before, but had read about them in passing previously.

A few weeks back, my father was talking to me about 3d printers, and that his local Mens Shed was interested in possibly purchasing one to learn and experiment with. With this in mind, I began researching printers a bit more seriously, and I finally made the plunge to go visit Make Hack Void, as it seems like a great place to learn about such things without breaking the bank and buying a 3d printer myself.

Getting involved in MakeHackVoid has been on my todo list for waaay to long, so it’s nice to finally get a chance to visit.

All they guys I’ve met so far have been really friendly, and even though I’ve only been there twice, and I’m generally an awkward, shy person in unfamiliar places, I felt comfortable, included and at ease. I actually felt part of the place.

Anyway, back to the 3d printers. I bought with me a few models that I’d like to print, but starting with a fairly basic model that would print fairly quickly, and allow me to get things done.

The model I was printing was a modified version of this model:

https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:2234814

I modified the original print to remove the actual Lyre style shockmount for this print. It’s pretty basic, but it prints fairly quickly (this took about an hour), and lets me check the sizing of the clip, and cold shoe, as well as seeing if the arms are likely to snap in half as soon as I try and clip in the microphone. The model I printed is shown below, and I’ve uploaded it to Thingiverse at: https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:2497931

 

The Lulsbot Taz5 printed my first print fantastically. It was touch and go early on, when the long skinny clip arms came off the print bed, but damage was minimal, and the print kept going, all the way to completion, and I ended up with a very usable print.

3D printers are mesmerising to watch, and the Taz5 sounds like a happy little robot buzzing around the printbed as it worked away.

As I mentioned earlier, the print I did last night took about an hour to print. While it printed, we chatted about 3D printers, and some electronics, and I managed to snap a few pictures of the print in progress, as well as the settings we used:

Finally, once the print was complete I let the printer cool for a few minutes and then the print popped right off the print bed.

Once I got home, I  snapped a few pictures of the completed clip, so you can see the details of the print, and attached the mic to the camera, so you can see it in action.

So my first hands on 3D printer experience went better than I could have expected, and everyone at Make Hack Void are really friendly & inviting. I look forward to coming back again soon so I can have good chat with everyone, and play some more with the printer!

Step for sore puppy

Our dog Bella is about 9 years old now, and she has arthritis in at least her back hips, and I suspect her front ones are developing it as well.

So, my wife and I figured she needed some kind of step to help her get up onto her favourite chair, so this past weekend  I made her a step to help her get onto her chair.

All projects begin with some planning. Design wise, it’s pretty basic. It is just a wooden crate. Sketchup is fun and easy to use for sketching out designs like this. I began using dimensions from pine timber at Bunnings, but due to there being a surprise amount of timber needed to go into it, I decided to use what I could scrounge up around the house. Free is always good.

This is a rough cut and screw together project. There is no fine woodworking happening here!

Screwing sides together

Screwing sides together

In order to avoid bothering with trying to glue up a bunch of not completely straight pieces of timber, I went with screws. The strips of timber on the ends hold the two side pieces together. They are also decorative. Width wasn’t particularly important, and these were offcuts from ripping the timber for the thin strip on the top of the side.

On a side note, It can be a pain to rip a board that is already cut to length with a hand held circular saw, as the fence runs out of timber to guide it. It is easier to do if the board is longer than needed though.

Screwing the sides together

 

Sides done, now working on the top

 

 

Job done, Bella testing out the box. Apparently it makes a good pillow

 

For anyone interested in building something similar, Here is a picture of the sketchup drawing of my project. Please note that I made this to suit the timber I had lying around, and to match about 1/2 the hight of the chair, so if you are making this for a similar purpose, you may need to adjust your sizing to suit your chair, and the timber you are using. You could also turn this upside down, and it makes a fairly sturdy storage crate.

sketchup layout

Plant stand DIY

Long weekends are good times to do projects around the house, and at the moment we are trying to grow some stuff. Here is one of the things I made last year during a long weekend. I can’t remember which weekend it was. I need to be more efficient at posting these posts.plant stand

We had this big terracotta pot from our previous trials, and we needed a stand to get it off the ground, to make it easier to get to, and to stop Bella, our dog from digging in it. Even though she has an entire yard that she can dig in, as soon as you give her a nice pot plant to dig in, she will. if there are plants, she’ll have them out of there!

The frame is nothing spectacular, and won’t win any design awards, but it’ll hold for now.

I made the design up as I went along, cutting up a length of construction lumber, and some bits of a pallet to build it, it was all just stuff I had lying around.

Its still holding strong so far, although the lettuce we had growing in the pot has succumbed to the heat of summer. We need to find something new to try and grow in there.Plant stand close up

I think it turned out pretty well. At the very least, it performs its intended task quite well

Sandpaper storage shelf (aka, I got a saw for my birthday, and needed an excuse to cut stuff)

Here is the completed shelf in its current location.

Here is the completed shelf in its current location.

I turned another year older recently, and for my birthday, my wonderful wife bought me a Ryobi One+ battery powered circular saw.

Of course, If you get something like a saw for your birthday, you instantly need to find something to cut.

I had to sit through an entire day of work before I could play with it, so after work, I stopped off at Bunnings on the way home, and bought a couple of sheets of MDF. I had an idea to make a shelf to store my sandpaper neatly.

Every time I make something like this, I always manage to stuff up in my measurements, and this time was no different.

When measuring up the MDF for the sides of the cabinet, I seemingly picked the narrow sides, instead of the long sides.

However, I measured and cut the the top and bottom with clearance for the sides Plus the sandpaper, but the front and back only had a little extra leeway, and the paper wouldn’t fit if I added the sides in the same way.

I didn’t have enough MDF to cut 2 new sides out, so instead, I used the sides, and the bottom, but cut another top that was the width of the bottom, Plus the thickness of 2x sheets of 12mm mdf. this meant I wouldn’t eat into the size of the top shelf.

The bottom was slightly larger than the rest of the compartments, as A: I was lazy and B: I wanted to try and make a little drawer for other bits and pieces, so I got away with using the original bottom.

I cut the slots for the 3mm MDF with the saw as well. If I did something like this again, I’d probably try and get a 3mm bit for my router, as for each slot in the MDF, I had to do 2 overlapping cuts with the circular saw. A lot of people do this kind of work on a table saw, but as I don’t have one of those, and I do have the hand held circular saw, that’s what I used.

As it was, Come assembly time, I discovered I wasn’t quite accurate enough with my slots, and while some were OK, a couple were a little too tight. While trying to tap the shelves into position, I was actually driving the sides apart. with a few knocks from a mallet, and some clamping and extra glue, I managed to get things to fit up well enough again. I’ll have to be a bit more careful next time. Its all a learning experience.

So, its not exactly an action shot, but

So, its not exactly an action shot, but here is the saw after cutting the slots for the shelves

I was impressed with the performance of the saw. After a couple of hours of working with it, not working full time obvously, but working it enought that I thought I might have dropped the battery a bit, the battery was still reading fully charged on its built in meter. I think I’m going to like these 5 amp hour batteries that I bought to go with my Ryobi One+ gear.

Out of glueup, and the shelves fitted.

Out of glueup, and the shelves fitted.

Cat Climbing Tower

Recently, my wife and I embarked on a project to build a climbing tower for our cat Dizzy. After watching a show about troubled cats, we learnt that cats like to sit in high places, and overlook their domain, so we were aiming for a fairly high tower, that you just can’t buy (not without spending a lot of money anyway).

Inspired by the design at http://www.meow-cat.com/2013/02/how-to-make-cat-tree-with-solid-wood.html, I fired up Sketchup, and began working out what would fit best for our needs, and that resulted in a nice set of plans to guide us in construction.

The sketchup design

The sketchup design

we had an idea of what we needed, so off we went to the hardware store to get the timber and some other bits and pieces needed. It was getting late in the afternoon, so we had to hurry to get in before they closed. Returning with a car load of wood and MDF, it was time to get started.

The key to any successful project is good plans

The key to any successful project is good plans

Insert building montage here….

So we didn’t get many pictures between starting, and finished construction, so you’ll need to use your imagination to fill in the blanks. I think I need to work out a way to take time-lapses for projects like this.

From recollection, we went to the hardware store at about 3pm on sunday, and managed to have a standing cat tower by dinner time. I think we did well.

In no time, we're finished

In no time, we’re finished

As we ran out of time for the weekend, we bought the tower inside, and Dizzy got an opportunity to try out the tower unfinished for the week. She likes the 2nd highest shelf the best.

Dizzy trying out the uncovered tower

Dizzy trying out the uncovered tower

The following weekend, we had some more time, so off to the craft store to get everything to finish painting. The wood is painted with acrylic artist paint, and the shelves covered in purple fuzzy fabric. In the picture below you can see Dizzy trying out her new favourite place. We have since sat a pillow on the shelf to make it a little more comfy for her, and its now her place to sit.

Painted, covered, inside. Dizzy approves.

Painted, covered, inside. Dizzy approves.

All in all, I think we spent under $100 for everything we needed to make the tower, it was a fun project to make, and Dizzy loves it. I’d call that a success.